The Lessons of Homer

Horace Epistulae 1.2.1-22

While you are making speeches in Rome, Lollius Maximus, I, in Praeneste, have read again the writer of the Trojan War. He tells more clearly and better than Chrysippus and Crantor what is good, what [is] bad, what [is] useful, what [is] not [useful]. Unless something distracts you, listen to why I am of this opinion (lit., have believed thus).

The story, in which is told the collision of Greece with the foreign world in a prolonged war on account of Paris' love, encompasses the passions of foolish kings and peoples. Antenor recommends the removal of (lit., to remove) the cause of the war. What [does] Paris [say] ? He declares that he cannot be forced to rule in safety and to live happily. Nestor hastens to setde the quarrels between the son of Peleus (i.e., Achilles) and the son of Atreus (i.e., Agamemnon). Love inflames the former, but anger inflames both (of them) alike. Whatever the kings rave, the Greeks are punished. Inside and outside the walls of Troy mistakes are made because of sedition, acts of treachery, crime, and lust and anger.

On the other hand, he (i.e., Homer) has set forth Ulysses [as] a useful model [as to] what virtue and wisdom can [do]. He (lit, who, i.e., Ulysses), the conqueror of Troy [and a] prudent [man], observed the cities and customs of many people, and endured many hardships over the broad sea while he tried to secure a return for himself and [his] companions, [but he was] unsinkable amid the hostile waves of circumstances.

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